In August 2018, Partners In Education (PIE), the local education foundation for Craven County Schools, had just held its Stuff the Bus campaign in preparation for the school year.
PIE received $35,000 worth of school supplies – a record amount – and Craven County Schools was well on its way to start a new school year with lots of school supplies.
Just a few short weeks later, Hurricane Florence hit Craven County, and Eastern North Carolina was devastated. Craven County Schools alone had over $9 million in damage. Many schools were used as shelters, and due to the damage, could not reopen for weeks.
Once the board of directors of PIE realized that much of the supplies received from Stuff the Bus had been damaged, they decided, as Diane Bingler Bondurant tagged it, to #ReStufftheBus.
With Craven County Schools Central Services office unable to accept school supplies, Chip Chagnon, board president of Craven County ABC, quickly stepped up and agreed to accept school supplies from all over the country. The staff at ABC Board hung the PIE “Stuff the Bus” banner on the front of their building so people would know where to go and the ABC office and warehouse became an unofficial annex for PIE.
Supplies were delivered in vans, trucks, the trunks of cars, and any other way that people could deliver the much needed supplies.
The ABC staff of Paul Brown, Esther Blevins Patterson, and Pat Gulley, never hesitated to help those delivering items with unloading their vehicles. Many a hand cart and pallet load full of supplies were unloaded.
As the supplies were delivered, Bradley A Langhans, Diane Bondurant, Katy Gwaltney Chadwick, and Debbie Lynn Hodges (who was not able to attend the presentation) stepped in. They called in an army of teachers who organized the school supplies and personal care items for disbursement.
After the supplies were organized, over 100 teachers who had been affected and displaced by the hurricane came to the ABC warehouse to get personal care items and school supplies for themselves, their classrooms, and their students.
The story doesn’t end here. Because of their generosity, PIE was able to accept supplies well into November. The ABC Board used their truck, and Paul Brown and Brad Langhans were able to deliver the sorted school supplies directly to each school as they reopened, replenishing the lost supplies they received earlier in the year from the original Stuff the Bus.
Don Brinkley, PIE president, says his best guesstimate is that PIE received and disbursed well over $70,000 in donations.
There were many hugs and tears shared as teachers came in to pick up supplies, even those personally affected by the hurricane came to help with the sorting. Brinkley said, “What did we learn? That there are no small acts of kindness. Every kind act creates a ripple without end.”